Category Archives: Books and Product Reviews

Filey Bird Report 2013

Now and Happening!

review by David Campbell

 

Situated between Flamborough Head and Scarborough, Filey is coveted as one of the finest birding locations on the Yorkshire coast. The recording area list is peppered with a number of terrific rarities, and seasoned birders are quite likely to have visited, perhaps for Britain’s first Spectacled Warbler in 1992. Filey has a devoted band of enthusiasts in the form of Filey Bird Observatory and Group (FBOG) who work tirelessly to record and conserve the birds and wildlife of this important site by, among other activities, managing habitat, ringing and expeditiously producing an annual report. FBOG’s 2013 Filey Bird Report, the 37th edition, produced by a small team of volunteers, comes in a new large format and has been overhauled from cover to cover.

Layout 2

 

The front cover provides instant enticement to delve in, with a pleasing design driven by a collection of 14 high quality images of birds taken at Filey in 2013, both common and scarce. The Species List section is generously decorated with Colin Wilkinson’s charming and talented artwork, some pieces colour, and others monochrome; the written content of the Systematic List, meanwhile, is fascinating – 225 species treated in good detail when it comes to first and last dates, high counts and visible migration totals. The section is well-treated with tables presenting data predominantly covering peak day-counts, visible migration and seawatching figures.Duskypage

 

Despite the report being published in full colour, none of its many high quality bird photographs are scattered within Species List; instead, ‘Birds in Profile’ includes 41 good-sized images including some of Filey’s commoner species along with many of 2013’s scarcity highlights. This section is at once beautiful and sickening to peruse – if only we were all lucky enough to have a patch like Filey! A number of other photographs are found in the ‘Annual Review’ – a traditional synopsis of the ornithological year at Filey – and in ‘A year at Filey’, a collection of well-written articles detailing some of the most significant finds of 2013, as well as pieces on garden birding, cetaceans and breeding auks. Among the articles are accounts of the discoveries of two firsts for Yorkshire – Black-headed Wagtail and Brünnich’s Guillemot – and these make for gripping reading, especially as neither bird remained for long.

BrunnichsFBR1

 

Sections towards the back of the report deliver summaries of the other wildlife recorded at Filey in 2013. Butterfly records are looked at month-by-month while dragonfly records are organised by species. Overviews are also given for plants and mammals and it is heartening to see FBOG accumulating a wealth of data on an array of non-avian species.

AnnualFBR1

 

A ringing review adds to the glut of information so neatly packed into the 136 page publication and includes details of recoveries alongside ringing totals. Although a key is provided for different types of recovery, an explanation for age/sex codes has been omitted and may lead to confusion for non-ringing readers. Although the general lack of migrants trapped is bemoaned in this section, crippling images of Red-breasted Flycatcher and Yellow-browed Warbler in the hand make you think that they could have had it worse!

 

The 2013 Filey Bird Report is, all in all, very aesthetically pleasing, accessible and jammed full of useful information, particularly for an east coast birder. The passion and skill that has so clearly gone into putting the report together is admirable and the new edition easily qualifies as the benchmark for other local reports to aim for. All proceeds from the sales of the report go directly to the work of FBOG, and at £8, the report is a steal for its professional-style quality. It is truly up there with the best bird reports, and is worthy of a slot on the bookshelf of any collector or those with an interest in the birds of the east coast and beyond.

 

David Campbell

 

Now available for only £8 (plus p+p) from the Filey Bird observatory website HERE

A Few Words about the Book Launch

Friday 15th August 3:30 pm at the Author’s Wildlife Forum

If you at the Birdfair on Friday- you’d beChalleneg series cover very welcome to come along. I’ll give a short 15 minute talk on the book- how it came to be and wot’s in it- hoping to amuse and entertain. :)Then a chance to meet and chat.

You can buy the book at this event this coming Friday and I will be signing copies etc. etc.

Please come along and say hello!

Review

There is a review of the book on Mark Reeder’s ‘Of Pies and Birds’ website. Just CLICK.

More info on content etc HERE.

 

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Challenge Series pre-publication offer has gone live

Lots more with sample pages and chance to buy now

Don’t hang about . A special pre-publication offer is now live. To read more about the book and to buy it go here.

The book will be launched officially on 15th August at the Birdfair, Rutland at the price of £14.99. More info on that coming soon.

To buy the book: Click HERE

or go to the Birding Frontiers HOMEPAGE and click on NEW BOOK in the top menu line

juvenile female Northern Harrier. Ireland by Paul Kelly

juvenile female Northern Harrier. Ireland by Paul Kelly

What’s in the Book?

and How do I buy the book?

Details of how to buy the book will be posted on here  very soon (next couple of days). Just setting up the page. There will be options for UK, Europe and Worldwide purchasers.

Around at Phil and Sue’s house this evening. I asked Phil what tricky Identification challenge from the new book Challenge Series : AUTUMN he wanted me to post.

These he said IMG_1454something about these being a great and new ID challenge in the autumn:

So the new book covers 8 different types (taxa) of Stonechats which occur either as  residents, migrants or vagrant in Europe.

Here then (for Phil) is another taster. Part of the stonechats chapter covering Siberian Stonechats look like this. There are also sections on Stejneger’s, North and South Caspian and the 2 two European Stonechat taxa.

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Siberian Stonechat pages

 

Plenty more information to come in the next few days- just putting it together.

Cheers Martin

New Birding Frontiers Book

The Challenge Series: AUTUMN

Martin Garner

Dear Birding Frontiers…  readers, followers and friends

This is a little note on Tuesday evening to give you some advanced information. I have been working on a book with a remarkable team of people. It will be available from 15th August 2014 when it will be officially launched as part of the new Authors Wildlife Forum  at the Birdfair, Rutland Water (scroll down a bit to find us ).

More information will be coming each day (pretty much) up to the Birdfair to give you a taste of the book and its contents.

Most importantly we will be making a pre-publication offer of £3:00 off the price of the book limited to 100 copies. First come, first served basis. That offer will appear on here in the next few days.

For now a sneak preview into the layout to give you a taste of how it will look:

………………………….‘The Challenge Series’

 

A chapter introduction page:

Subalpine Warblers introduction spread

 

 

A two page spread for one taxon:

Wilson's Snipe 2 page spread

 

 

The Contents Page:

 

contents page

 

 

to be continued…  :)

 

Britain’s Dragonflies

A field guide to the damselflies and dragonflies of Britain and Ireland

by Dave Smallshire and Andy Swash. Third Edition. Fully revised and updated.

Published by WILDguides (Princeton).

Book review  by Dan Lombardcov BD3

The authors Dave Smallshire and Andy Swash require little introduction to the enthusiastic dragonfly hunter, weathered naturalist or keen beginner alike. Their latest instalment acts as an update to the two previous field guides to the damselflies and dragonflies of Britain and Ireland, produced by wildguides. The book keeps a similar structure to its two predecessors, with an introductory section which covers subjects including ecology, biology, habitat preferences and where to watch dragonflies. Then the book turns into what it was essentially written for, an up to date field guide on the identification of dragonflies and damselflies, with individual accounts for the 56 species likely to be encountered in Britain and Ireland, with additional attention given to vagrants and potential vagrants.

BD3 p48

A detailed identification key precedes the species accounts with detailed identification characteristics for each species. This can be especially useful in the field whilst cross-referencing different species. Systematic species summaries including notes on identification, behaviour, breeding habitat and population and conservation make up the majority of the book. These are excellently written with annotated photographic plates of dragonflies in their natural resting positions, showing the key identification criteria for that given species. Importantly this book pays particular detail to males, females and immatures which can look considerably different in this group even within the same species, it also highlights different ages and colour forms.

BD3 p134

Importantly the identification summary for each species is punchy, with key distinguishing features highlighted in red and regularly cross reference to the photos and other similar species. This is an important character of such guides when a quick reference is required in the field, without reading through reams of text.  Each sex is separated within the main text and is described accordingly.

BD3 p96

A paragraph on behaviour for each species covers important information to aid identification giving tips on how one would expect the dragonfly to behave in the field as well as notes on mating. The section on breeding habitat is relatively brief and acts more to aid identification rather than as a detailed account of species habitat preferences. Population and conservation rounds off the text for each species account and includes some interesting facts about records, recent colonisation events, as well as population outlook for the future.

BD3 p56

On the whole the photographs within the book are excellent, given how difficult this group can be to work with and have been selected to show key identification criteria. Most photographs show adults in their typical resting positions, allowing a clear view of all the important identification features for that given species. Given that we often see dragonflies in flight an excellent addition to this guide summarises identification of dragonflies in flight with some fantastic supplementary photographs.

hawker640h

As someone who spends a lot of time pond dipping and surveying ponds, a section about the identification of nymphs is also invaluable and is much improved on previous editions, with a detailed key aiding field identification.

BD3 p208

Due to the time of year in which this review was undertaken I field tested the book on nymphs. The book is relatively light, comes with a waterproof cover and is small enough to fit into most bags. It is excellent for field work being both light and durable. The keys are straightforward and easy to follow without being over complicated.

On the whole this is a comprehensive guide which beginners and experts alike can take into the field and confidently use to identify any dragonfly or damselfly that is likely to be encountered in the British Isles. I would thoroughly recommend it to anybody wanting a book on these species or wanting to get into what can initially be a daunting group.

 

Dan Lombard

 

 

The Sound Approach to Birding: Now an eBook on iPad.

 Reviewed by Tim JonesCover

I’ve spoke to a lot of birders recently who have at one point thought about sound recording or it’s on their list of things to do. If that’s you then read half a chapter in the Sound Approach to birding and you will be heading over to eBay to buy some sound recording equipment! The Sound Approach guys have a knack of sounding very clever and knowledgeable but at the same time making it sound easy. In the book complex and potentially confusing calls and songs such as the plastic song of Savi’s and Grasshopper Warblers are discussed in a way that makes it very easy to understand.

And if you need more convincing about getting some sound recording equipment…

‘’It’s frustrating to read long-winded disputes about the identity of a particular rarity on the internet with numerous photographs to look at, when a sound recording would have settled the matter in a moment’’

Take for example a large pipit that was recently in Easington. Views were brief and not conclusive so 5 mins work with some recording equipment, get back make a sonogram and job done it’s a Richard’s, okay so it wasn’t quite that easy but that’s because I didn’t have the Sound Approach to Birding on the iPad!

The book p69X.480x480-75covers Pacific/American Golden Plover, Chiffchaff/Iberian Chiffchaff, Richard’s/Blyth’s/Tawny, Siberian/Common Stonechat, Red-breasted/Taiga Flycatcher, long calls of gulls, woodpecker drums, Short/Long-billed Dowitcher, sexing Pectoral Sandpiper on call, Laughing Moorhen, ‘African’ Chaffinches, Booted/Sykes’s Warbler, the mine field that is Crossbill calls and Northern Bullfinch calls.

Whilst also giving you tips on simple song, ,modulation, call shapes, acoustic slum, variation in calls, cracking the code, ageing birds on call, plastic song, crystallised song, mimicry, mixed singers, playback,

And an all round general introduction to sound recording and information that will help improve your sound recording ability!

Having p127X.480x480-75previously read some of the sound approach books using the ‘traditional’ method using a book and CD player to work through the book, I found it somewhat annoying to have to continually press play and pause whilst reading the book in order to listen to the brilliant recordings that accompanied the books on separate CD’s. Now an iPad edition has been launched which allows the ‘reader’ to interact more easily with the book and the recordings.

The pages are the same as the book version but now instead of having to mess around with separate CD’s all you have to do is press on the sonogram and it opens as a video that shows the sonogram, plays the recording and has a little red bar that moves along, showing the stage that the recording is playing at.

 

 

Sound recording is a whole new aspect of birding that is really starting to open up, most people already have decent sound recording equipment already in their pockets, smartphones! It’s a subject that there is still a lot to learn about and getting the interactive version Sound Approach to Birding on your iPad is the perfect way to start!

For more info and to buy go >>> HERE<<<